Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 99-89 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena:
1.DIRK IS BACK: Dirk Nowitzki made his long-anticipated 2018-’19 debut. And all things considered, he did pretty good. Nowitzki played just six minutes in the first half, banked in his first field goal attempt from 15 feet, and missed his only 3-point attempt. The 21-year veteran was 1-of-2 from the field, scored two points, grabbed one rebound and admitted afterwards that he was winded.
2. BAD LOSS: All losses are obviously bad, but this one carries a particularly extra brand of “bad” with it. That’s because the Suns have the NBA’s worst record. And they were without their best player (Devin Booker). And they had lost 10 straight games entering Thursday’s contest. Counting their opening-day victory over Dallas, the Suns are 2-0 against the Mavs this season and 3-24 against the rest of the NBA.
3. TOO MANY TURNOVERS: The Mavs wound up committing 23 turnovers against the Suns. The fact that they were still in this game in the final three minutes means if they had committed, let’s say, 18 turnovers, they may have gotten out of here with a victory. Those turnovers led to the Suns attempting more field goals than the Mavs — 92 to 78. It also put more pressure on the Mavs’ defense to try and get more stops.
4. DOWNTOWN WAS CLOSED: This was one of those nights where the 3-point shot just wasn’t falling for the Mavs. Dallas attempted 33 shots from downtown and only five of them managed to go through the rim. But those five makes were critical, because it extends the Mavs’ franchise record of making at least five 3-pointers in a game to 209 games in a row. The streak started on Mar. 9, 2016.
5. SMITH RETURNS: Lost in the shuffled that occurred Thursday was the return of starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. Smith missed the previous three games with a sprained right wrist, but coach Rick Carlisle said he came to him and told him he wanted to play. Smith admittedly was a bit rusty and finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, one assist, three steals and five turnovers.